So long Bohemia pianos — we will miss you.

The Bohemia Piano company is the latest victim in the piano industry of the challenging global economy.  You can read more about the history of Bohemia pianos here.  This blog however, is to inform you that we recently received word from the factory representative that Bohemia pianos will no longer be produced.  This is quite a blow to an already shrinking, yet important segment of the piano industry — the handmade European piano market.

Most piano manufacturers — Bohemia included — made drastic changes in order to survive the recession, with various levels of success.  Some chose to shed inventory, facilities and/or employees…some chose to source materials or production in China…others gave themselves up to the highest bidder.  Even the prestigious Bosendorfer piano company in Vienna was recently sold to Yamaha in an effort to remain stable and continue their legacy.

Bohemia was sold several years ago to the Bechstein piano company — a move that we dealers were excited about since it stood to improve the quality level of the product even more.  And it did.  However, the economic presses and rising costs continued to demand price increases that have recently proven to be much more than the market can bear.

An ultimatum of sorts was recently imposed whereby if the US distributor wasn’t willing to purchase a very large order of Bohemia pianos at the new, higher prices, the brand would unfortunately cease to exist.  This isn’t intended to sound like a strong-arm tactic by Bohemia’s parent company, Bechstein.  It’s simply the cruel reality of what it takes to continue to operate in these times.  Without such a commitment from their US distributor, Bechstein is better off focusing on their remaining lines of pianos.  It is also understandable that Bohemia’s US distributor would be reluctant to place such a large order in these continued uncertain times — especially at new, unprecedented prices — when Bohemia pianos had already been met with much resistance in the market at the older prices.

As a Bohemia piano dealer for over a decade, we have seen the tremendous value of the Bohemia piano line and the important gap that they filled for us.  After the exit of Kemble piano company from London in 2009, Bohemia represented the last bastion of mid-priced, handmade pianos from Europe.  They, like Kemble, were the only companies to offer an interesting, higher-performance alternative to Yamaha and Kawai, without doubling or tripling the price to get to Steinway or other, even more desirable premium European brands.  They also offered unique styling, finishes and veneer options that  Yamaha and Kawai don’t offer.

So in the wake of Bohemia pianos, there will indeed be a void in the industry that won’t likely be filled for quite some time.  At the time of this writing, the only Bohemia pianos that have not completely sold out are the studio models 114 & 121 and the 160 grand model. We have sold out of all other models and they are no longer available.  Bechstein will honor full warranties on any remaining pianos.  If you have any interest in a Bohemia piano, please contact us soon because when they are gone, they.  are.  gone.  😦

Pictured here is a Bohemia 121 Rhapsody in polished walnut that is currently available for sale.  One of the unique features of Bohemia that will be most missed is their careful selection of veneers for their cabinets.  This piano’s walnut veneers have beautiful grain that Bohemia meticulously bookmatched on the sides and on the front panels.  Such detail is rarely taken into consideration in today’s pianos.

It’s official, a used Yamaha U1 piano is the most requested piano in the entire industry.

This is only news insomuch as it hasn’t been proclaimed in print as much as it has long been suspected, until now. A used Yamaha U1 piano is by far the most sought after used piano model, representing 35% of all inquiries. Considering that the remaining 65% represents piano inquiries for the entire industry, spanning literally thousands of brand names and over 100 years’ worth of products, this is quite a testimony to the popularity of this particular model number. It begs the question, why?

Used Yamaha U1 professional upright piano

The most popular used piano

We should first qualify our claims about the used Yamaha U1 piano’s popularity. Our website, chicagopianos.com, fields as much as 50 inquiries a day from people all over the world seeking information about buying a piano. Because our site has more images of new & used pianos than any other retail piano website in the country, the inquiries we receive are very broad in nature. When we first posted this blog in 2011, we studied the previous three months of used piano inquiries in our database and 43% specifically asked about U1. In 2016, the same study showed a used Yamaha U1 was mentioned in 35% of the inquiries.

While the percentage has gone down a little, it’s important to note that hardly any other model even registers on this list.  The used Yamaha U1 piano is a thing.

In all fairness to the rest of the industry, this isn’t much of a surprise for several reasons:

1) Yamaha has made the U1 for half of a century worldwide without changing the model. Very few manufacturers have models that have been available even a fraction of the time.

2) The Yamaha U1 does have an excellent reputation for being a terrific, durable, professional upright piano so it stands to reason that it is highly requested.

3) Yamaha’s competitor Kawai, changes models from time to time…and from country to country, so they don’t really have a chance to compete in this contest, even though a couple of Kawai’s taller, yet comparably priced used models (along with a used Yamaha U3) could eat a U1 for lunch.

4) Yamaha has made more U1 pianos than the total of all models produced by most piano manufacturers.

5) Many cultures ONLY request Yamaha U1’s, so with that sort of brand/product loyalty, the piano has tremendous presence.

It is important to remember, however, that not all used Yamaha U1 pianos do not weather time the same. This is why the price range for U1’s wildly varies on the wild wild web. Also keep in mind that age doesn’t often have much to do with resale value. We recently had a 5 year old U1 that rightfully sold for less than half the price of one that was 40 years old due to how it was cared for. The cabinets both pianos looked great but the insides told a different story. Used Yamaha U1 and U3 pianos imported from Asia also have a very wide range of quality…and therefore a wide price range as well. There is a LOT to know about these pianos when simply shopping price on the lawless internet, where “mint condition” has no legal definition so please feel free to contact us for more information. You can also Click here for Buying Tips that you will likely find to be most valuable if you’re looking for information on buying a used piano.

Cordogan’s tries to obtain as many used Yamaha U1 pianos and used Yamaha U3 pianos as we can get but good ones are often difficult to find — especially ones that have been cared for well, so please check our used piano inventory or call 630.584.5000 to see what we currently have in stock.  Our prices not only represent the best value you’ll be able able to find anywhere in the U.S. but you can also have the security of buying from a reputable, family-owned company established in 1950!

Does all of this talk of Yamaha U1’s mean YOU should want one? Not necessarily. It just means that it’s an easy product to research because it is widely popular on a global level and because it doesn’t have much competition given its long history and widespread popularity. There are definitely pianos that might be a better value for you, depending on your circumstances and use.

Also there are still plenty of issues to discuss if you should find yourself considering a used Yamaha U1 piano, so please contact us at 630.584.5000 for more information.